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How to Program In-House, Part I

How to Program In-House, Part I

How to Program In-House, Part I

Everything starts with a device (probably more than just one). Actually, it starts with a “something” you sell that has one or more programmable devices. (We used to say that includes just about anything except a mattress, but there are lots of mattresses nowadays with advanced features). All examples are for instructional purposes only.

In our example, we’ve got two programmable devices on our board: a TSOP and a QFP programmable device. The TSOP has 1200 Kilobytes of data; the QFP has 1 Gigabyte (which makes in-line or on-board programming a bad option).

6 Ways to Program Devices (and Why Off-Line Programming may be an option)

Power Tip: If you are in the development stage of a project, use Device Search to see if there is already a programming solution for a device. At the development stage, you could possibly substitute a similar device that has support, saving time and money. New development can be expensive, so avoid it if possible

Device Semi House Code Qty/Year File Size Benchmark
QFP Renesas R5F100GXXX 1,200,000 1 Gigs ?
TSOP Renesas HN58VXXXX 1,200,000 1 MB ?

The next step is to use Device Search

Click on the Device Search link at the top of the BPM webpage. Search for the first device.

Click Search

One or more search results will be displayed. If no search results come up, try simplifying your search query. If that returns no results, you can request Device Support.

When you click the link, you’ll see the device parameters; towards the bottom are options for Automated Programmers, Manual Programmers, and sometimes Engineering Programmers (Engineering programmers are typically for older BPM programmers).

A good rule of thumb regarding when a programming project is a good candidate for Automated Programming is if quantities are in excess of 50,000 parts per year (there are some other things that could factor in, such as laser marking, 3D inspection, etc.). In our example, we will need about 3 million devices per year, so that makes Automated Programming a no-brainer.

The socket specific to your device will be listed in the left column, and are sorted by performance, with top-performing sockets towards the top. In our example, we’ll select FVE4ASMR48LQFPG

When you click on the top socket, you’ll get more specs on that socket. To get a quote, just click on the “Request for Quote” link.

Some of the fields will auto-fill; you will need to let us know the type of programmer you have (or which generation you are looking to get).

Once you know which socket is required to program your first device, you can also search to see if the socket is available for purchase on-line. Click on the “hour glass” symbol next to the “Get Quote” button in the Navigation Bar

Type in the search term and hit “enter”

If it’s available, and you are in North America, you can place your order with a credit card or purchase order.

 

Device Request

If your initial search for a socket doesn’t return a result, you can simplify your search query (that often works); if you still don’t get a “hit” don’t fret– use Device Request.

You’ll need a BPM Connect login. For more info on that, please view the video (below). If you like, you can skip ahead to about 5:30…

Device Search & Device Support Video

A short video on Device Search (beginning), How to order on-line (starts about 4:10), How to request Device Support (starts about 5:30)

Programming Devices— where no repairman has gone before

Programming Devices— where no repairman has gone before

How BPM’s device programmers master $100K antifuse FPGAs

The first few seconds are critical. There are a million things that have to go just right. If the rocket makes it to the second-stage burn, the engineers in mission control can begin to breathe again. For the payload specialists, the hard part is still hours, days, or even years to come. Where their satellite, probe, or manned mission is going, there are no service calls. Under the harshest conditions that are known to exist (extremes of heat/cold, g-forces, radiation, etc.) their payloads are expected to perform flawlessly well beyond what’s even realistic back on earth.

Whether it’s a sensor on an anti-lock brake assembly or a telemetry chip on a satellite, there are increasing numbers of programmed devices where failure isn’t an option; either it’s difficult or impossible to replace in the field, or failure means the potential loss of irreplaceable life and equipment (or both). When it comes to programming a mission-critical antifuse device, who is the only authorized vendor on which Microsemi relies? BPM Microsystems.

According to a Microsemi white paper, an antifuse-based FPGA is, “the most secure programmable device available.” Antifuse FPGAs are a one-time programmable non-volatile device that never uses a bitstream. Once programmed, it can’t be intercepted, copied, modified, or corrupted. They are also highly impervious to radiation (“Rad-Hard”). On the other hand, you’ve only got one shot to program the device, so it’s vital that it be programmed correctly.

Read More Here

Antifuse FPGAs have been around since the ‘90s, yet are still the most secure silicon devices available. From a practical perspective, antifuse devices are virtually impossible to reverse engineer. For instance, to determine the difference between programmed and unprogrammed fuses requires a scanning electron microscope, which when used, physically destroys the device in the process.

A single blank antifuse device can range in cost from a few thousand dollars to as much as $100,000! When a single device can cost as much as 50 times as much as the system that programs it, Microsemi has only licensed BPM to build their family of Silicon Sculptor programmers, now entering the 4th generation. The latest, the Silicon Sculptor 4 is built on the BPM 9th Generation site technology; 9th Gen programming sites are the most universal, most widely developed (35K+ devices and growing), fastest programming technology in the industry, and has been vetted by the most rigorous and demanding requirements in the business of programming. The underlying architecture was developed from the testing industry and is capable of generating the cleanest waveforms for the highest signal integrity, ensuring maximum trouble-free life in the field (even if that field is deep space).

When one chip costs more than some automated systems (such as BPM’s 3901 Automated Programming System) and there is no “second chance,” it has to be perfect the first time. The Silicon Sculptor 4 continues the tradition of delivering consistent quality devices to places where repair trucks can’t go.

Hardly anyone has the same quality requirements as antifuse devices. It is comforting to know the same attention to clean waveforms that Microsemi relies on is available to everyone. Anyone can benefit from the design criteria that are built into BPM’s 9th Gen family of programmers.  Signal quality, power supply design, and system self-check ensure the highest level of quality for you.

BPM Microsystems 3901 Automated Programming System using WhisperTeach™

BPM Microsystems 3901 Automated Programming System using WhisperTeach™

BPM Microsystems 3901 Automated Programming System using WhisperTeach™

WhisperTeach™ is BPM’s patented technology that “teaches” the critical z-coordinate to precisely pick and place devices to and from locations while operating an automated programmer. It eliminates the need for a highly-skilled operator to set critical Z-height for pick-and-place functions. WhisperTeach™ offers a faster set up times and improved yields. WhisperTeach™ eliminates common Z-height errors such as miss picks, miss place, and socket continuity flaws.

Challenge

Very small devices such as WLCSP, SOT, DFN have very low mass. When teaching Z with a vacuum, the suction causes the part to jump up to the nozzle, increasing the possibility of an inaccurate Z teach elevation. Because automated systems are extremely consistent, a less-than-perfect teach may cause pick and place errors, dropped parts, cracked parts, and continuity errors.

This overview is a portion of a virtual demo. To see more, check out https://bpmmicro.com/3901-virtual-demo/ https://bpmmicro.com/3901aps/

3901 Runs a (short) Job

3901 Runs a (short) Job

3901 Runs a (short) Job

How quickly can you be up-and-running after a job changeover? If you’re using a BPM Automated Programmer, you’re not waiting long to get the “green light”. This overview is a portion of a virtual demo.

To see more, check out https://bpmmicro.com/3901-virtual-demo/

Hosts:

Colin Harper
Director of Sales and Product Management
Colin has been at BPM for over 17 years. He’s been head of Engineering, Product Development, Sales and Marketing. Colin was instrumental in launching the 3901 and 3928 in 2019.

Scott Bronstad
Marketing Communications Manager
Scott has over 25 years of marketing experience and has recently launched BPM’s eCommerce store.

3901 Virtual Demo

3901 Virtual Demo

3901 Virtual Demo

Live Webinar July 7, 2020

  • The 3901 APS – the affordable full-featured APS with Universal Programming Technology and On the fly vision alignment
  • Take a test drive with WhisperTeach which automates the Z-axis teach
  • We’ll talk about Scalability: Field Upgrade to 3928 (up to 7 sites, 1432 DPH)
  • Live 3901 Demo
    • Job changeover from TSOPs to BGA devices
    • Run a job
    • WhisperTeach Demo
  • Q&A

Your Hosts

Colin Harper

Colin Harper

Director of Sales and Product Management

BPM Microsystems
15000 Northwest Fwy,
Houston, TX 77040-3220
USA
Phone:  +1 713 351-5521
Cell: 1+ 832 358-1002

Colin has been at BPM for over 17 years. He’s been head of Engineering, Product Development, Sales and Marketing. Colin was instrumental in launching the 3901 and 3928 in 2019.

Scott Bronstad

Scott Bronstad

Marketing Guy

We want to help you be successful! Let us know how we can help
Office: +1 713-263-3776 x5464
Cell: +1 832-816-6579
email

Scott just celebrated (in May) 2 years at BPM. He has over 25 years of marketing experience, and has recently launched BPM’s Ecommerce store.

Bring your mission-critical programming in-house for less than the cost of outsourcing AND maintain control of your IP

Bring your mission-critical programming in-house for less than the cost of outsourcing AND maintain control of your IP

From a time, cost and personnel perspective, it’s easier than you think

Moore’s law (Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law) )states integrated circuits double in both speed and number of circuits roughly every two years. As programmable devices become smaller, denser, and more complex, most machines that program those devices have become more expensive, and require experienced technicians to operate, maintain and troubleshoot.

The downside to outsourcing programming are legion: added cost, minimum orders, long lead time, and reprogramming or scrap when data files change. Another danger is protecting your intellectual property. Once your source code leaves the vault in your factory, it is vulnerable to theft (This is not a concern if you’re using a reputable programming house in your home country or region. If your source code crosses a border, you’re putting your company at risk. ) Due to current market conditions, companies are increasingly concerned about interruptions in the supply chain, especially for components sourced from Asia.

Until recently, it wasn’t feasible for most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) with significant programmed device requirements (A good ball-park for an automated programmer is in excess of 50K devices per month. ) to justify the cost of bringing programming in-house. Automated Programming Systems (APS) were expensive and complex to set-up, run and maintain. That’s when BPM changed the game.

A short history lesson

BPM Microsystems started making EPROM programmers in the mid-80s. BPM’s Founder Bill White was a student at Rice University, working on his degree in Electrical Engineering. He needed a way to get his code on a read-only chip, and discovered there just wasn’t a good way to do it. So, he built his own programmer. While he was still living in the dorm, he started selling his programmer, the EP-1, by mail order, and BPM Microsystems was born. BPM has a history of simple-to-operate, reliable systems that deliver the industry’s best results.

BPM launched its first automated programmer in the mid-90s: the BPM 4100 was the only universal fine-pitch automated pick-and-place programming system. Compared to today’s machines, it was slower and more difficult to set up (and operated in DOS). Compared to the single-purpose machines of that day, the 4100 revolutionized device programming by combining universal programming technology with universal fine-pitch handling capability.

Holy Grail of Device Programming

The “holy grail” of consistent automated programming results is the Z-axis teach. There are three axes on an automated handler: X, Y, and Z (Theta is the 4th “axis” which determines the precise orientation of the device (rotation)). X (horizontal) and Y (vertical) are easy; a downward camera with a bomb site allows for precise placement on the center of a device. The Z (up/down) is, by far, the most difficult and the most important. Both the pick and place locations, if off by less than the width of a human hair, can cause major problems. Manually-adjusted z-teach can go badly two ways: pick (or place) too high can cause misalignment of the device; place (or pick) too low, where the nozzle comes in contact with the device, can cause micro-cracks. Devices with micro-cracks usually pass the initial test (green light), but can oxidize the sensitive metal film causing devices to fail in the field.

BPM is the first to solve the Z-axis conundrum with a patented solution called WhisperTeach. It utilizes hardware and software to turn the device nozzle into a sensor. Without coming in contact with the device, the automated system detects the height of the device to within 15 microns (4 times finer than a human hair) and automatically completes the “teach” in less than 8 seconds. A trained technician, although not as accurate as WhisperTeach, can teach a single location in about a minute. On a single job set-up, the difference in time is dramatic: WhisperTeach set-up is usually around 5 minutes; manual teach can take up to 45 minutes to an hour. When you add the loss of productivity to the reduction in precision, things can quickly get dicey. Regardless of which programmer, pick-and-place systems are incredibly repeatable: if the teach is off by a little, the pick/place will be consistently off as well.

WhisperTeach is available on all BPM automated systems, not just on its high-end systems.

Bringing it Home

Since about 2010, the strongest market segment for Automated Programmers has been Automotive suppliers. Automotive suppliers have an ever-increasing need for programming as cars become more complex and technology-driven. They also often require 3D inspection and laser marking to ensure consistent quality and to track inventory. Big projects, with millions of programmed devices, make device programming in-house a no-brainer.

Smaller OEMs, while perhaps having many of the same needs as the Automotive guys, were constrained by limited resources. As their programming needs outgrew their ability to produce on manual systems, the only option was to outsource to the programming houses or ship their component manufacturing off-shore.

Then came the perfect storm of 2019: a crippling trade war, followed by a growing pandemic.

OEMs recognize the risk in outsourcing critical components, such as programmed devices, to off-shore suppliers. They are looking more closely at options that reduce their reliance on forces beyond their control in a way that reduces costs and speeds go-to-market.

BPM has a history of innovation; they also have a reputation as the “luxury brand” in device programming– feature-rich, and pricy, especially when compared to low-cost Asian machines. That changed with the launch of the 3901, the lowest cost full-featured automated system with vision centering (Precisely center the device (even if the operator is slightly off) and affect the theta spin while traveling to the site location, which delivers incredibly precise placement without the need to slow down) and true universal support (Only BPM has the same site technology, same software, same sockets and algorithms in all of their 9th Generation programmers. With over 35,000 supported devices, including the most difficult and mission-critical, no one in the industry comes close.). The 3901 starts at under $90,000 with a maximum configuration of 16 device sockets (Sockets are specific to the device they program and act as the bridge between the device and the programmer).

Within 10 days of the 3901 launch in October of 2019, the first machine sold to a telecommunications OEM in the Northeast US. The second soon sold to a Midwest heavy equipment manufacturer. Both companies needed an affordable system that can supply their catalog of programmed devices to their lines. The 3901 quickly became the fastest-selling automated system in BPM’s 35-year history. Equipment manufacturers, especially those in North America and Europe/Middle East, finally have a lower-cost option for their device programming needs without sacrificing quality and capability.

With the launch of the seven-site 3928 in November 2019, companies have access to automotive-level quality (available 3D inspection) with up to 28 sockets in a fully-loaded system that starts at just under $110,000.

Hot buttons for OEMs

  • Faster time to market– go from prototype to production in weeks, not months.
  • Expand vertical manufacturing capability
  • React to design changes quickly– tweaks in code can be updated to the workflow in just a few minutes
  • Intellectual Property physically protected from theft (This is one of the reasons BPM has maintained a technology advantage over their competitors. The “secret sauce” source code stays locked at BPM’s campus in Houston, Texas USA, where they still build all of their systems.)
  • Don’t have to shut down the line due to supply chain issues with programmed devices
  • Device programming is easier than ever before; Installed and operational in less than one week
  • Manual programmers can provide 10s of thousands of devices per year; when demand exceeds manual capacity, it’s easy to migrate to an automated system (same sockets, software, no need to redo first article, etc.)
  • One high-speed universal platform can support millions of devices per year, at an incredibly low cost per device
  • As demand increases, it’s easy to add additional sites for more capacity. If additional capacity is needed, add additional shifts without needing highly skilled technicians
  • Lower cost solutions (3901, 3928) provide the greatest value in the industry. ROI in months, not years.

Conclusion

You can’t control world events– what you can do is provide your manufacturing team with an uninterrupted supply of high-quality, low cost programmed devices. To find out more about how BPM is changing device programming for OEMs, please call us at +1 (713) 263-3776, or Toll-Free in the US: (855) SELL BPM. Ask us about the industry’s only self-installation for APS that’s fast, easy, and free.

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